The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) on Friday suspended operations in Manila South Harbor because of heavy rains, tangling traffic along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
The suspension resulted in a long line of container trucks trying to enter Port Area, with their drivers caught by surprise by the PPA’s move.
PPA General Manager Jay Santiago instructed the Asian Terminals Incorporated (ATI), the operator of South Harbor, to accommodate only those container trucks with previous appointments and not to accept new bookings to ease the traffic congestion.
Santiago said the port shutdown was temporary and was in a “stop-and-go” situation since they could not unload containers using magnetic lifters owing to strong winds.
“Hindi naman po walang operations. Ang nangyayari diyan, ang pier natin ay talagang 24 oras ang operations. Ang nagiging problema lang po natin dahil makikita naman natin na masama ang panahon, malakas ang hangin lalo na diyan sa area ng South Harbor, hindi tuloy-tuloy makapag-operate ang ating mga equipment, yung mga cranes (Not that with we have stopped operations. Our port is 24 hours operational.
The problem was we cannot continuously operate using our crane equipment because of poor weather condition),” Santiago said on radio.
He raised safety as the utmost concern, not just of the public but also of the port itself.
“Iniingatan natin ‘yan dahil magkakaroon tayo ng aksidente kapag ipinagpatuloy natin ang operations. Ang instruction po natin sa ATI ay asikasuhin muna yung mga nandiyan na mga truck. Hindi naman natin sila puwede itaboy (We are carefully looking into the problem to prevent any accidents in-between operations. We have instructed ATI to accommodate the trucks that were already there because we cannot drive them away),” Santiago said.
Eligio Fortajada, PPA South acting port manager, said operations must be stopped if the wind gauge reaches its speed of 16-18 meters per second.
Aduana Business Club President Mary Zapata said truck operators were not informed about the stoppage of operations, fueling concerns that these operators were paying ATI for not showing up or arriving late for their scheduled appointment.
The traffic gridlock surprised motorists before dawn on Friday with container trucks stretching from Roxas Boulevard to Buendia Avenue in Pasay City.
Motorists described the two streets as one “huge parking lot.”
In a related development, trucks coming from Port Area can now ply Recto Avenue starting Monday, August 12, before turning left to Abad Santos Avenue and going north, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said also on Friday.
“’Wag ho kayong magugulat na magkakaron ng truck route dyan sa Recto until Abad Santos (Please don’t be alarmed if you start seeing trucks along Recto Avenue and Abad Santos),” added Moreno
The rerouting plan aims to decongest Radial Road 10 (R-10).
According to Domagoso, the plan will be enforced until the construction of Skyway Stage 3 from Capulong Street to Navotas is finished.
The skyway is meant to reduce traffic in the approach to North Luzon Expressway (NLEx).
“All outbound trucks from the Port can now utilize Del Pan [Bridge] all the way to Recto [Avenue] and turn left to Abad Santos, second lane towards R. Papa, all the way to NLEx,” Domagoso said.
He pointed out a “chokepoint,” the intersection of Rizal Avenue and Abad Santos, would be free from massive traffic under the rerouting plan.
The mayor said the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau will augment personnel to manage traffic in select areas.
Domagoso, met with PPA authorities and container van operators on Friday.
With a reports from JOSHUA VERA CRUZ